So, I’m an incorrigible multitasker. There, see? I came right out and admitted it like a big girl. Truth is—I have a dreadful time unitasking. (I think I made that word up. Isn’t it fantastic?) I like to have multiple things going on at the same time. I like to throw myself into one bubbling pool of creativity, haul myself out, and dive right into the next one.
Ohhh, some might say that’s not an efficient way to work. Focusing on one thing at a time is a much better way to get things done.
Perhaps there is some truth to that. Or perhaps it’s just true for some people. For me, I thrive on variation. Focus too long on one thing, and I get bored, or worse, burned out.
Case in point? Everyone knows it’s NaNoWriMo time. Some of you might know that I’m working on Subverter, the sequel to Down a Lost Road. Well, when I started thinking about WriMo, I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to participate this year. Finally I decided I would go a head and give it a shot… I would try to juggle writing two novels on rather short deadlines. And I’m so glad I did.
See, I got to a place in Subverter where nothing was cooperating. Merelin got herself into a bind, and I had no idea how to extract her without going all deus ex machina on the story. Bleh. So I dropped the story and focused entirely on Ethereal — my NaNovel — for a few days. Didn’t get a jot written on Subverter. Well, working on more than one story turned out to be a brilliant strategy. Ethereal kept my writing juices flowing, while also giving me a break from a project I obviously needed to take a step away from for a while. Then, in a flash of inspiration, I figured out what to do with Merelin, and over the last two days I’ve churned out over 5,000 words on Subverter. Tsha. (Of course, poor Ethereal has languished for those couple of days…but that’s okay. Emery and Therrei can wait a bit. Subverter has a much stricter deadline…)
Everyone works differently. Everyone handles writer’s block differently. Some people work best when they can just plug away at their particular project, without distraction or deviation. I definitely believe that we have to continue to be creative even when we don’t feel the inspiration for our current WIP, so sometimes that means starting something new…even if it’s a silly project we don’t intend to keep. Or maybe we can try doing something else creative.
Personally, I like to have my options open, so that I can always have something to switch to, to get some distance from whatever is giving me fits. Right now —in addition to my already
insane ambitious 2 novel effort — I’m also working on illustrating a children’s book for a friend. So if the words dry up, sometimes it’s easier to get the paint flowing. And, even though I’m not really a composer, sometimes I like to pull up a music editor and do a little random experimentation with stuff. It’s like…exercising different muscle groups. Right?
The key to successful writing is to find a process that works for you. That might involve insane attempts at multitasking. If so, go for it! And don’t let anyone convince you that this way or that way is not a good way to work. Just like some people can’t imagine writing a novel without first outlining every step of the plot, and others take a flying leap into writing without looking twice, so also some people can’t imagine dividing their attention, and others can’t survive without it.
Once you know what works, you can laugh at the idea of writer’s block. Make sure it’s an evil — or, even better, a maniacal — laugh.